Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Guess the Plot
The Queen of Steel and Fire
1. Once again the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance, and once again it's up to a sixteen-year-old girl to save us all. This time her name is Claire, but by the time it's all over you'll be calling her . . . The Queen of Steel and Fire.
2. Karoleena is stuck making a costume out of dusty feathers and fast food wrappers because the other queens have taken all the fun props. But wait, the construction site across the street has a burning torch and pieces of steel no one needs. Karoleena is going to rule the catwalk.
3. Fierce, independent Catherine Mc Bride has inherited her father's railroad and awesome power. Handsome, crafty Roger Boline has a stake in coal and admires her caboose. Will they be able to join forces against the sinister trestle cartel, or will their lives be a trainwreck?
4. Forced to marry the aging King Trunglow, Princess Letitia is furious. Vowing to never bear an heir, she flees to the edges of her new kingdom. When her erstwhile husband and her distraught father are slain attempting to find her, the recalcitrant bride accepts her new reign. Odd how any job is more tolerable if you aren't married to a geezer.
5. Alexander "Alex" Owens, a welder at a Pittsburgh steel mill who lives with his dog Gigi in a converted whorehouse, works nights at Mawby's Bar and Grille which holds a nightly burlesque. It's a plum gig--until the night three of his coworkers accidentally drop in.
6. Queenie Flourtnoy is Fire Robinson’s blues singer until she falls for Steel Sanders and sings for his bluegrass band. Fire is furious and says “I’ll kill ‘em both”. Then cops find Queenie decapitated and Steel with a .40 cal bullet in his heart. Hot detective Mary McRae is determined to nail Fire this time. Will she get Fire or will she be singing the defeated detective blues?
Dear Evil Editor,
Your agency’s representation of many fresh works with strong female protagonists is one of the primary reasons that I am writing to you. I’ve also followed your blog for several years, and I’ve always found your advice and insights very helpful and interesting. [It's a fine line between flattery and sucking up. The thicker you lay it on, the closer to the end of the query you should put it.] As I see that you accept fantasy queries, and that you currently represent several writers in the young adult fantasy genre, [If you're talking about the same material you called "fresh works" in sentence 1, let's move on. Opening with a whole paragraph about why you chose to write to this person would be called burying the lead if you were a newspaper reporter.] [If the job "newspaper reporter" still existed.] I would like to submit my novel, The Queen of Steel and Fire, for your consideration.
After her father’s sudden death, sixteen year old princess Claire Erinn is about to become the first female ruler of Keldaren. But when Claire learns that the king was poisoned, she begins to unravel the vast conspiracy closing in around her. [At this point I would expect her to "suspect" the conspiracy rather than to "unravel" it.] After Death herself attacks Claire during an assassination attempt, [Who is attempting to assassinate whom?] enemies begin to arise on all fronts…even from within her own family. [If both Death and someone else were attempting to kill Claire at the same time, I'm wondering how she's still alive. They wouldn't call Death Death if she screwed up her missions.] Unprepared to rule, Claire must fight to save both her kingdom and her life. When war erupts, the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance, as Claire’s enemies turn to sorcery, and the dark power behind the conspiracy is unveiled. [When the fate of the world hangs in the balance, there's gotta be a better hope than a sixteen-year-old who isn't even prepared to rule one lousy kingdom.]
The Queen of Steel and Fire is the first volume of a planned series. Although this is the first novel that I have written, I have previously written short stories, some of which have been published in The Peninsula Pulse, a local news and literary magazine. The manuscript is complete and is 96,000 words. May I send you sample pages for review? Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
I would drop the whole first paragraph. The last paragraph can do without the second sentence, and you can drop any two of the last three sentences.
That leaves the plot paragraph,which would be okay if this were the voice-over of a five-sentence movie trailer or the back cover copy, but I would like more information. How does this teenager plan to defeat conspirators, sorcerers, a "dark power," and Death herself? The Fantastic Four couldn't win this battle.
What do all these enemies want? To rule Keldaren? How can the fate of the entire world depend on whether Claire Erinn, who isn't prepared to rule, rules Keldaren? Why doesn't she go hang out at the mall and let everyone else fight it out? Perhaps if we know why Keldaren is so special, and if you reveal who's behind the conspiracy and what super powers Claire possesses . . .
The title suggests the steampunk genre. Or does steampunk have to be iron instead of steel? In any case, if Claire has a magic sword that shoots fire, say so.